As  you can imagine, shopping for that all-important next bike has been eating up a lot of my time and consciousness over the last [nearly] nine weeks.  I bought a Novara and returned it after getting Mr. Foot crushed by that lady who thought watching where she was driving was a stupid idea.  Plus, as I mentioned, I was less than impressed with the service at the store/location I won’t name.

Last time I bought a bike on purpose, it was 2006.  Needless to say, “commuter bike” was only emerging in faint whispers as a bike category.  And hell, no one ever mentioned mounts for racks and fenders as a feature of a bike back then! I bought that bike, a Giant Cypress DX, in 2006 from a local chain, and I was happy with the job they did putting it together.  Really happy.  Two thousand miles under my fat ass, speeding all over Baltimore’s broken streets, and the rims were true when I crashed, and I think they did a nice job adjusting everything else before they sent me on my way.  Which was good, considering I was too afraid to adjust brakes back then. That didn’t last long, but still.

Now, there are bikes with internal hubs, fenders or room for better fenders, steel frames, upright riding frames, etc.  It’s dizzying.  I won’t waste your afternoon (because you know you’ll look them all up) listing all of the bikes that have featured as my replacement bike of the day. I think I’m driving my poor wife and cycling buddies crazy with my bike ranting. “Holy shit, dude! You should see the specs on the bike I looked up today during my lunch hour!”

Really, you start seeing a lot of the same stuff.  Heavy shocks, with lock-out becoming a feature of the higher-end models.  Eyelets to mount all kinds of stuff, with clearance for fenders.  Double-walled rims and decent tires.  Better seats and riser bars as far as the eye can see. Every time I found a bike I liked, I would find three others just like it for around the same price from different manufacturers.

Then it comes down to where to actually buy your bike. Do I go back to the store I was unhappy with when they are the only place around town to get a few of the bikes I like?  Do I go to a shop that I have never liked because they sell a certain Trek I find alluring? Or some place with a good reputation that is all the way across town from where I live and work? I know where I want to buy my bike. They only carry a few brands, but within those brands, I see some bikes I really like and some I just plain drool over. I miss having an LBS, as I’ve mentioned. I’m looking forward to getting a new bike and shopping and building it up with nice accessories.

Dan said that buying a bike from a national chain didn’t “seem like [me],” which I take as a compliment. He said he thought I’d go local or get a sweet used bike. With some of the used bikes I’ve seen at the LBS I mentioned, hell, I might just do both.

I keep remembering how disappointing it can be when you get a new bike whose specs you love and that you love when you saw it the first time, only to see it poorly assembled and beaten up before you even get to ride it — no matter how good of a deal it is.